Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad (Goi Du Du)

Yum
  • Preparation: 15 mins
  • Cooking: 20 mins
  • Skill level: Easy
  • Servings: 4

Description Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad (Gủi Đu Đủ)

In the Vietnamese Cuisine, papaya is more than just a sweet fruit. The mild, firm flesh of an unripened green papaya is treated like a vegetable. Green papaya may be pickled, added to soup, or featured in salads like this one. Here, crunchy, light jade papaya shreds are flecked with chopped herbs and bits of shrimp and pork and tossed with a dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, and garlic. 

Look for green papayas at Vietnamese or Thai markets, Chinese markets with a Southeast Asian clientele, or Latin grocery stores. A bit of yellowing on the skin is fine, but make sure the flesh is neither soft nor mushy. Whole fruits will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. 

Ingredients

  • DRESSING
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 or 2 Thai or serrano chiles, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 green papaya, about 2 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 boneless pork loin chop, about ¼ pound
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Vietnamese coriander or cilantro leaves

Method Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad (Gủi Đu Đủ)

1, To make the dressing, in a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and chiles until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to develop the flavors.
2, Peel the papaya with a vegetable peeler and then cut off the stem. Halve the papaya lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut each half lengthwise into quarters, and then use a knife to remove the thin white layer lining the cavity. Using a Japanese Benriner slicer or a food processor fitted with the largest shredder blade, shred the papaya pieces. Aim for thin strands about 1/ 16 inch thick, no more than 3/ 16 inch wide, and 2 ½ to 3 inches long (about the size of the shredded mozzarella you put on a pizza.)
3, Put the shredded papaya in a colander, add the sugar and 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt, and use both hands to massage the sugar and salt vigorously into the papaya. After a few minutes, the papaya will be a little slimy and limp yet still firm. At that point, rinse it under lots of cold running water to remove the salt and sugar.
4, Working in batches, wring out excess moisture from the papaya in a nonterry dish towel: position a mound of the papaya in the center, roll it up in the towel, and then twist the ends in opposite directions to force out the liquid. Do this 3 or 4 times. You want to extract enough water from the papaya yet not completely crush it. Transfer the papaya to a large bowl and fluff it up to release it from its cramped state.
5, Fill a small saucepan half full with water, add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the shrimp, remove from the heat, and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the shrimp have curled nicely and are pinkish orange. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool, leaving the water in the pan. When the shrimp are cool enough to handle, shred them with your fingers into ¼-inch pieces. Let the shrimp pieces continue to cool to room temperature and then add them to the bowl containing the papaya.
6, While the shrimp are cooling, trim any excess fat from the pork chop. Return the water in the pan to a rolling boil and drop in the pork. When the water starts bubbling at the edges of the pan, remove the pan from the heat and cover tightly. Let stand for 20 minutes. The pork should be firm yet still yield a bit to the touch. Remove the pork from the pan. Reserve the light stock for another use or discard. When the pork is cool enough to handle, cut it into matchsticks. Let the pork continue to cool to room temperature and then add it to the shrimp and papaya.
7, Just before serving, add the Vietnamese coriander to the salad and toss to distribute evenly. Pour on the dressing and toss again. (If you don’t want to bite into a piece of chile unexpectedly, strain the dressing over the salad.) Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking, balancing the sour, sweet, salty, and spicy. Transfer to a serving plate, leaving any unabsorbed dressing behind, and serve.

Chef's Note

You may ready the papaya, shrimp, and pork a day in advance. Keep them in separate covered containers in the refrigerator, and return them to room temperature before tossing the salad. The dressing may be prepared several hours in advance. 

When I am including Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad (Gủi Đu Đủ) in a meal that contains a pork-based dish, I leave out the shredded pork and add more shrimp (use about ¾ pound total). If papaya isn’t available or if you would like a slightly more assertive flavor, use daikon instead. Select young daikons (which have a milder taste) no more than 1 ½ inches in diameter. 

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